Professor of the Indiana University
Anthony Gigliotti will be remembered as a central pillar of the generation of great American clarinetists who were educated in the Bonade tradition. Principal clarinetist of the Philadelphia Orchestra for more than 40 years, Mr. Gigliotti constantly exemplified the finest instrumental values of this great school of playing: seamless legato, fluent technical command, a carrying, vibrant tone and a spectacular pianissimo. Most importantly, in his hands these attributes were never free- floating, random displays of empty virtuosity. There was a convincing musical logic to everything he played, and his formidable skills were always deployed in service of impeccable phrasing and a cultivated and tasteful approach to interpretation. His boundless enthusiasm for music and for the clarinet never wavered over the entire span of his distinguished career. As befits a teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music, Mr. Gigliotti was eAxtremely demanding of his students. Treating us as budding professionals from the first day of our freshman year, he expected our lessons to be “mini-performances”, perfectly prepared and executed down to the last detail. This exacting professional climate , however, was always tempered by his gentle sense of humor, his personal warmth, his humanity and his compassionate supportiveness towards his students. Those of us who lived too far from our homes to return to our families at holiday times were cordially invited to share Thanksgiving dinner with the Gigliotti family and friends. After the meal, we would sit around with Anthony and listen to old recordings, and he would regale us with anecdotes – not always reverential - of various conductors he had played for. While dignified and aristocratic in public, he was not averse to using the occasional earthy, humorous expletive around those he felt close to. This would always be followed by his mischievous “Cheshire cat” grin. I remember a lesson on “Petrouchka “, using a copy of his Philadelphia Orchestra part. Naturally, I was curious about the penciled markings in the music, and the unusual instruction “BTSOOI” caught my eye. I asked what it meant, hoping that deciphering a marking used by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra would provide me with some musical insight. Anthony responded – “Well, that’s where Mr. Ormandy wants us to play so loud that the floor shakes, so we all write that in our parts at that point.” Diligent student that I was, and not content to leave it at that, I inquired further - what, specifically, did the letters of that mysterious abbreviation stand for? Anthony said, “Well, it’s kind of a trade secret, but since you really want to know, I’ll let you in on it – it stands for Blow The S--t Out Of It…”
I last had the pleasure of Anthony’s company as my house guest a few years ago. He was featured in recital and master classes at the yearly Indiana University clarinet symposium. He was in his seventies, yet vital and energetic as always. After a long day of teaching and rehearsing, we enjoyed some wine and conversation, and then he stepped into the studio to practice for tomorrow’s recital – “just to be on the safe side”. Though recently retired from the Philadelphia Orchestra, he still put himself through his orchestral paces with enthusiastic, polished renditions of the thorny passages from Rossini/Respighi “La Boutique Fantasque” and Roussel “Bacchus ed Ariadne” that he had included in his daily routine for decades. Real characteristic Philadelphia Orchestra repertoire…
Anthony Gigliotti had an abundance of "heart" , a huge presence as a musician and as a person. I cherish his memory and I will always miss him.
Eli Eban studied with Anthony Gigliotti at the Curtis Institute of Music. Upon graduation he returned to his native Israel as principal clarinetist of the Israel Radio Symphony. He went on to play thirteen seasons in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta, Leonard Bernstein, and other internationally renowned conductors. He was a participant of the famed Marlboro Music Festival and has toured worldwide as a chamber musician. He has been soloist with the Israel Philharmonic, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the Camerata Academica of the Salzburg Mozarteum, among others. In 1999 he was invited to return to the Israel Philharmonic as Acting Principal clarinet on a world tour directed by Lorin Maazel, and he recently appeared as soloist with the Israel Camerata Orchestra.
Mr. Eban was visiting professor of clarinet at the Eastman School of Music prior to joining the faculty of the Indiana University School of Music in 1990. He divides his time between his teaching duties in Bloomington, playing principal clarinet in the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and touring as soloist and chamber musician. His former students include the principal clarinetists of the Israel Philharmonic, The Louisville Orchestra, the Toledo Symphony, the Singapore Symphony and the New Mexico Symphony.
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